With Ukraine’s effort to subdue the pro-Russian rebels in the eastern part of the country faltering, it is understandable that its Prime Minister submitted a proposal to Parliament seeking NATO membership. What is surprising — and dangerous — is the response of NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: “We fully respect Ukraine’s decisions as regards Ukraine’s security policy and alliance affiliations.”

While NATO membership for Ukraine would almost surely make Russia more cautious in its treatment of that nation, the immediate risk of NATO membership is likely to make Russia much more aggressive in an attempt to prevent that from ever happening.

Furthermore, even if Ukraine were to join NATO in the future and that were to make Russia more cautious, the risk of a war between the U.S. and Russia still would increase. That’s because any suspicion of an attack by Russia on Ukraine — as is now the case — then would risk the U.S. being treaty-bound to respond just as if New York had been attacked by Russia.

NATO Treaty, Article V: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

And it can be very murky determining who is behind an attack, whether or not it was provoked, and even whether or not it even occurred.

Unless we want to risk the survival of our homeland (and possibly the world) on allegations and perceptions of what is happening in a civil war in Ukraine, we should be much more circumspect in welcoming Ukraine into NATO.